NJD Preview: Devils at Thrashers
Thursday, 10.16.2008 / 7:00 PM
New Jersey Devils
newjerseydevils.com – The Devils play the third of their four-game road trip in Atlanta, where they take on the Thrashers tonight at 7 p.m. (MSG, WFAN 660 AM).
New Jersey (2-1-0) is looking to rebound from Monday's 4-1 loss to the Rangers, in which the Devils allowed two power play goals and misfired on three power play chances of their own.
Special teams were a priority this week for head coach Brent Sutter, who used practices to work on igniting his squad's offense.
"We've outshot teams, but the power play has to produce for you. It has to score goals," Sutter said Tuesday. "A power play can change the momentum of a game pretty quickly."
The Devils notched a pair of 2-1 wins to start the year, but have lit the lamp only five times in 2008-09.
"We scored five goals in three games, and I'm not even saying that's a bad thing because we're 2-1," Sutter said. "But the fact is that if our power play is able to get two or three goals in those three games then maybe it's eight goals, and that's not bad. That's the difference."
Zach Parise, tied with Patrik Elias for the team lead in goals (2), has the Devils' only power play tally this season. New Jersey is 1-for-11, and hopes to snap an 0-for-9 skid.
Four-time Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur opened the season with a pair of wins to reach 540 for his career. He currently sits 11 behind Patrick Roy for the league's all-time mark and can move one closer with a victory tonight.
Brodeur owns a career record of 16-6-8 against Atlanta, with a 2.13 goals-against average and five shutouts.
Since posting a 7-4 win over Washington in their season opener, the Thrashers (1-1-1) have dropped two in a row, including Tuesday's 4-2 loss versus Minnesota.
Ilya Kovalchuk, the NHL's second-leading goal-scorer last season, scored for the first time in 2008-09, and center Bryan Little added a goal and an assist. Little, a first-round pick in the 2006 draft, has three goals and two assists three games into his second season.
The Thrashers allowed 266 goals last season, tied with Tampa Bay for the most in the league, and the Devils took advantage, going 3-0-1 against Atlanta and scoring 14 goals in those games.
In two regulation victories last season at Philips Arena, the Devils outscored Atlanta 9-5, scoring six goals against goalie Kari Lehtonen in a 6-5 win last Oct. 13. Lehtonen has a 3.58 lifetime goals-against average against New Jersey, while backup Johan Hedberg has beaten the Devils just once in his last seven starts against them.
Tonight marks the Devils' first game this season outside of the Atlantic Division. The club travels to Washington Saturday, and returns home to face Dallas on Thursday, Oct. 22, for Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night. GET TICKETS
with wire services